A vigorous, readable revisitation of the events of a century and more ago but with plenty of subtle lessons in the book for...

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THE SUFFRAGENTS

HOW WOMEN USED MEN TO GET THE VOTE

An account of the role men played in pressing the case for women’s voting rights in the early years of the last century.

Kroeger (Journalism/New York Univ.; Passing: When People Can't Be Who They Are, 2003, etc.) opens with a 1911 parade along New York’s Fifth Avenue in support of women’s right to vote, with some 5,000 marchers converging on Union Square. Among them were dozens of men who marched under the banner of the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage. “These men were not random supporters,” writes the author, “but representatives of a momentous, yet subtly managed development in the suffrage movement’s seventh decade”—namely, the careful leveraging of men in the professions, as well as the military and clergy, to endorse the cause. Among them, Kroeger enumerates, were Max Eastman, George Foster Peabody, John Dewey, and other stalwarts of progressivism. Yet, as she notes as her narrative broadens into an urgent, interesting history of women’s suffrage generally, those progressives were not always strong allies of women’s rights. Among other things, World War I diverted them from full participation in the movement, and Eastman may have trivialized the cause when he argued before striking male workers, “you dislike women’s voting and we like it, and that [is] all the argument there is between us. What can we do to persuade you?” Though mindful of the dangers of co-optation, the “suffragettes” put the “suffragents” to good work all the same. Among the pleasures of Kroeger’s carefully developed storyline is the view of how important political figures such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson came around to accepting the idea that women deserved the vote, an evolution helped along by arguments by the suffrage movement’s male allies until the righteousness of the cause could no longer be ignored.

A vigorous, readable revisitation of the events of a century and more ago but with plenty of subtle lessons in the book for modern-day civil rights activists, too.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4384-6630-9

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Excelsior Editions/State Univ. of New York Press

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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